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Tualatin woman battles cancer, clinic organizes blood drive in her honor

PHOTO BY ERICA ANN PHOTOGRAPHY & FINE ART - Sheila Brandon (right) and her husband Luke, in a photo provided by Providence Medical Group.Sheila Brandon, a supervisor at the Providence Medical Group clinic at Bridgeport, hasn't been able to work during her latest round of cancer treatments, but even as she battles her own disease, she knows her impact will be felt for many others in medical need.

That's because of the way PMG Bridgeport honored Brandon on Friday — it held a blood drive and bone marrow donor registration event that organizer Laura Herrera, a registered nurse who has worked closely with Brandon for the past two years, said was “really successful.”

Herrera, a nursing quality supervisor, said blood and marrow donations are valuable in treating blood cancers like Brandon's.

“One of the things we wanted to do was just raise awareness and kind of give back to the system that's been doing such good work for her,” Herrera said. “And Sheila always wants to support other people so she was very happy with the idea of supporting others with what was going on.”

Brandon is just 34 years old. She got married last year. A month after her wedding, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of cancer that affects white blood cells.

While she was able to work through her first round of treatment, the cancer did not respond as well as doctors hoped. This second round of treatment is “much more intensive,” Herrera said.

“It's been fun to be able to do something, I think, in these times,” said Herrera. “You feel like you want to do something and you never really know what, so this has been a good outlet for everybody.”

Brandon's prognosis is good, according to Herrera. Hodgkin's disease has among the highest survival rates of all forms of cancer. However, it is still a serious illness and recovery can be a lengthy and exhausting process.

“I would say the first, probably first six months, I was kind of in a daze about it,” Brandon said in a video released by PMG Bridgeport. “I couldn't think that it was real. But it absolutely was real.”

She added, “Everybody has a cancer story. I didn't know what mine was until my own personal diagnosis.”

September is also Blood Cancer Awareness Month.

A Bloodworks Northwest bus parked outside the PMG Bridgeport clinic and welcomed donors from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday.

Herrera said many of Friday's donors work at the clinic. Others who gave blood are friends and family of Brandon or simply members of the community, she said.


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